On Sept. 16, the lawn in front of Haynes Hall will come alive with color. The Indian Students Association (ISA) at MSU has been working hard to organize the Festival of Colors — a celebration of Holī, a Hindu festival associated with the start of spring. According to the ISA, their goal as a student organization is to “foster cross-cultural interaction transcending geographical boundaries.”
Traditionally, Holī falls on the last full-moon day of the Hindu month of Phālgun, which is typically in late February or March on the Gregorian calendar. It is distinguished as a celebration praising farming, the harvest and prolific land. Although spring itself is still months away, the Festival of Colors also celebrates love and a sense of social harmony, which is more than welcome at any time of year. The festival inspires people to, as the ISA puts it, “bury our tensions with a warm embrace and throw the worries out with the colors.” For many, Holī marks the start of the new year and a chance to repair broken connections, put an end to disagreements and free themselves from the more polluting influences of the past year.
There are many stories about the origin of Holī and the Festival of Colors, one of which is the tale of love between the Hindu deities Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is widely recognized by his characteristically dark skin and he was worried that the fair-skinned Rādhā might not love him in return. In an attempt to comfort her son, Kṛṣṇa’s mother told him to smear Rādhā’s face with paint so that she could be any color. Kṛṣṇa did so and the two became a couple. This is believed to be where the Holī custom of painting friends and loved ones with colored powders originated from.
The festival is celebrated mainly by Hindus but is also observed by some Sikhs, Jains and other non-Hindus. It has also begun to spread itself throughout parts of Europe and the Americas as a celebration of spring, love and color.
Participants throw colored powders at each other or even colored water, leaving people covered in a rainbow of hues by the end of the festival. Most of the time washable dyes are used but if you come to the event, please wear clothes that you don’t mind potentially staining. This is an incredible chance for the MSU community to support our fellow students from overseas and learn about other cultures from around the world. The event is free and open to all students — the larger the turnout the better. If you would like to be a part of the Festival of Color go to the ISA Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/237492856939370/ and select the “find tickets” option. On the following page you can register by requesting that a color packet be prepared for you and providing your name, as well as how you heard about the event. Please join in helping our fellow students celebrate their traditions and partake in the spirit of love and community that is the Festival of Colors. The festival will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 16 at the Haynes Hall lawn.